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Celebrity Activism: Industry, Culture, Society
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7/14/2011 at 1:14:37 PM GMT
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Celebrity Activism: Industry, Culture, Society

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Celebrity Activism: Industry, Culture, Society

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University of Southern California

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This panel seeks to explore the ways in which film actors, television personalities, musicians, etc., have mobilized their celebrity for political and social causes, and the economic and social effects of these mobilizations. Case studies may include either past or contemporary celebrity activists—from Paul Newman (who campaigned for Senator Eugene McCarthy in 1968, among many other political and philanthropic efforts), to Doris Day (whose Doris Day Animal Foundation has operated since 1978), to Leonardo DiCaprio (whose personal, financial, and professional contributions to combat global warming have been widely publicized). Potential papers may consider: In what ways can the celebrity contribute to cultural, political, and/or social transformation? How do industrial changes contribute to or affect celebrity activism? How does political or social activism inform the celebrity's professional career? How do politically or socially active celebrities complicate theoretical notions of celebrity culture? What roles do race, class, gender, and/or sexuality play in legitimating or delegitimizing the star body as political? How do new technologies, such as social networking media, influence the discourses of both celebrity and activism, either by giving the celebrity an immediate platform (i.e. the recent Ashton Kutcher/Village Voice feud) or by joining celebrities and non-celebrities in activist work (i.e. the It Gets Better Project)? Please send an abstract of no more than 300 words, a 5-item bibliography, and a short bio to Elena Bonomo ( and Courtney White ( by August 1st, 2011. Participants will be notified no later than August 15th.

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